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Michael Moore and Whistleblower Wendell Potter on Olbermann Tonight: “We Knew as Much About Michael Moore as He Knows About Himself”

November 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Cover of "Sicko (Special Edition)"

Cover of Sicko (Special Edition)

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Friends,

Tonight at 8:00 PM ET on Keith Olbermann’s show on MSNBC I will meet for the very first time the man the health industry sent to Michigan to, in his words, “spy” and do “reconnaissance” so they could try to defame me and my movie (“We knew as much about him probably as he knows about himself”).

Tonight I’ll get to talk to former Humana and CIGNA health insurance executive Wendell Potter, the man who has bravely come forward to expose not just the hundreds of thousands they spent trying to destroy “Sicko,” but more importantly how they profit in the billions from a system that kills 45,000 Americans a year who are uninsured.

Actually, it turns out tonight won’t be the FIRST time I meet Wendell. He wrote this morning on his blog that he flew to the little village where I lived in Michigan to attend a screening I was having for the people in the area. He even walked into the reception we had beforehand and got his picture taken with me. His blog reads, in part:

“I need to apologize to Moore for the role I played in the insurance industry‘s public relations attack campaign against him and “Sicko,” which was about the increasingly unfair and dysfunctional U.S. health care system…[W]hile I was still working for the insurance industry, I traveled as an industry spy…to attend the official U.S. premiere of Sicko on June 16, 2007. Moore and I actually met that day, although he doesn’t know it. (I didn’t tell him who I was or who I worked for.) The picture accompanying this blog, taken at a pre-screening reception by another movie-goer, shows me on Moore’s left and my son, Alex, on his right. Alex, who has always been a big fan of Moore’s, traveled with me on the reconnaissance mission. Moore even autographed a “Sicko” poster for Alex. It’s quite a memento.”

If you’re free tonight, tune in to Keith’s show. I know I’m looking forward to meeting the man who ran over my “baby.”

See you then,
Michael Moore
MMFlint@aol.com
MichaelMoore.com

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How Corporate America Is Pushing Us All Off a Cliff …a letter from Michael Moore

November 19, 2010 Leave a comment

The corner of Wall Street and Broadway, showin...

The corner of Wall Street and Broadway, showing the limestone facade of One Wall Street in the backg...

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Friends,

When someone talks about pushing you off a cliff, it’s just human nature to be curious about them. Who are these people, you wonder, and why would they want to do such a thing?

That’s what I was thinking when corporate whistleblower Wendell Potter revealed that, when “Sicko” was being released in 2007, the health insurance industry’s PR firm, APCO Worldwide, discussed their Plan B: “Pushing Michael Moore off a cliff.”

But after looking into it, it turns out, it’s nothing personal! APCO wants to push everyone off a cliff.

APCO was hatched in 1984 as a subsidiary of the Washington, D.C. law firm Arnold & Porter — best known for its years of representing the giant tobacco conglomerate Philip Morris. APCO set up fake “grassroots” organizations around the country to do the bidding of Big Tobacco. All of a sudden, “normal, everyday, in-no-way-employed-by-Philip Morris Americans” were popping up everywhere. And it turned out they were outraged — outraged! — by exactly the things APCO’s clients hated (such as, the government telling tobacco companies what to do). In particular, they were “furious” that regular people had the right to sue big corporations…you know, like Philip Morris. (For details, see the 2000 report “The CALA Files” (PDF) by my friends and colleagues Carl Deal and Joanne Doroshow.)

Right about now you may be wondering: how many Americans get pushed off a cliff by Big Tobacco every year? The answer is 443,000 Americans die every year due to smoking. That’s a big cliff.

With this success under their belts, APCO created “The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition.” TASSC, funded partly by Exxon, had a leading role in a planned campaign by the fossil fuel industry to create doubt about global warming. The problem for Big Oil speaking out against global warming, according to the campaign’s own leaked documents, was that the public could see the “vested interest” that oil companies had in opposing environmental laws. APCO’s job was to help conceal those oil company interests.

And boy, have they ever succeeded. Polls now show that, as the world gets hotter, Americans are getting less and less worried about it.

How big is this particular cliff? According to the World Health Organization, climate change contributes — right now — to the deaths of 150,000 people every year. By 2030 it may be double that. And after that…well, the sky is literally the limit! I don’t think it’s crazy to say APCO may rack up even bigger numbers here than they have with tobacco.

With this track record, you can see why, when the health insurance industry wanted to come after “Sicko,” they went straight to APCO. The “worst case,” as their leaked documents say, was that “Sicko evolves into a sustained populist movement.” That simply could not be allowed to happen. Something obviously had to be done.

As Wendell Potter explains, APCO ran their standard playbook, setting up something called “Health Care America.” Health Care America, according to Potter, “was received by mainstream reporters, including the New York Times, as a legitimate organization when it was nothing but a front group set up by APCO Worldwide. It was not anything approaching what it was reporting to be: a ‘grassroots organization.’ It was a sham group.”

Health Care America showed up online in 2007 (the year “Sicko” was released) and disappeared quickly by early 2008. You can still find their website archived here. As you’ll see, their “moderated forum” allowed normal, everyday, in-no-way-employed-by-the-insurance-industry Americans to speak out. For instance, here’s something Nicole felt very strongly about:

“Moore shouldn’t be allowed to call his film a ‘documentary.’ It should be called a political commercial. We need to fix our health care system, but we shouldn’t accept a Hollywood moviemaker’s political views as the starting point.”

Here’s what Wendell Potter revealed about the insurance industry’s media strategy:

“As we would do the media training, we would always have someone refer to him as ‘Hollywood entertainer’ or ‘Hollywood moviemaker Michael Moore.’ They don’t want you to think that it was a documentary that had some truth.”

Thanks for your perspective, “Nicole”!

Now, how big was THAT cliff? A pretty good size — according to a recent study, 45,000 Americans die every year because they don’t have health insurance.

And here we are in 2010. A lesser PR firm might be resting on its laurels at this point, content to sit back and watch hundreds of thousands of people continue to be pushed off the various cliffs they’ve built. But not APCO! Right now they’ve taken on their biggest challenge yet: leading a giant, multi-million dollar effort to help Wall Street “earn back the trust of the American people.”

We may never know the size of this particular cliff. But we can be sure it’s gigantic. According to the New York Times, one of the things Wall Street’s recession gave us is “the crippling of the government program that provides life-sustaining antiretroviral drugs to Americans with H.I.V. or AIDS who cannot afford them.” Internationally, organizations fighting AIDS and other diseases are “hugely afraid” of cutbacks in funding.

Of course, there are the 101 ways recessions kill quietly. For instance, children’s hospitals are seeing a sharp 55% rise in the abuse of babies by parents.

And that’s just the previous cliff. If APCO and its Wall Street co-conspirators lull us into turning our backs on them again, we can be sure the next cliff — the next crash — will be much bigger.

Anyway, this is all just a way for me to say to APCO: No hard feelings! My getting mad at you would be like a chicken who’s still happily pecking away getting mad at McDonald’s. Compared to the millions you’ve already turned into McNuggets, you’ve actually treated me much, much BETTER! Spying on my family, planting smears and lies about me, privately badgering movie critics to give the film a poor review, scaring Americans into believing they’d be committing a near-act of treason were they to go to the theater and see my movie — hey, ya done good, health insurance companies of America. And, most important, you stopped the nation from getting true universal health care. Good job!

There’s only one problem — I’m not one of those “liberals” you fund in Congress, the ones who fear your power.

I’m me. And that, sadly, is not good for you.

Yours in good health,
Michael Moore
MMFlint@aol.com
MichaelMoore.com

P.S. It seems to me that APCO’s discussion of pushing me off a cliff should legitimately be part of their Wikipedia page. And why not something about their role in Wall Street’s new PR offensive? So I’m asking everyone interested to write something up that meets Wikipedia’s guidelines and help bring the APCO Worldwide entry up to date. Post it somewhere online and send a tweet about it to @mmflint. I’ll award a signed copy of “Sicko” by noon Sunday to the best entry…and then deputize you to post it on Wikipedia for real and make sure APCO’s minions don’t take it down. Just be sure afterward not to walk near any cliffs!

P.P.S. The late, great comedian Bill Hicks had some thoughts about marketing and the people who do it.

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They Said They Would Push Me “Off a Cliff” …a letter from Michael Moore

November 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Michael Moore interviews a physician from the ...

Image via Wikipedia

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Friends,

Yesterday, on the TV and radio show “Democracy Now” hosted by Amy Goodman, the former Vice President of CIGNA, one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies, revealed that CIGNA met with the other big health insurers to hatch a plan to “push” yours truly “off a cliff.”

The interview contains new revelations about just how frightened the health industry was that “Sicko” might ignite a public wave of support for “socialized medicine.” So the large health insurance companies came together over a common cause: Stop the American people from going to see “Sicko” — and the way to do that was to cause some form of harm to me (either personally, professionally or…physically?).

Take a look at this stunning section of the interview with Wendell Potter:

WENDELL POTTER [former executive, CIGNA]: …We were concerned that the movie [“Sicko”] would be as successful as “Fahrenheit 9/11” had been. And we knew that if it were, it really would change public opinion about our health care system in ways that would be harmful to the profits of health insurers. So, it was very important for this [attack] campaign to succeed. At one point during a strategy meeting, one of the people from [the insurance companies’ public relations firm] APCO said that if our efforts, our initial efforts, were not successful, then we’d have to move to an element of the campaign to push Michael Moore off a cliff. And not meaning to do that literally, but to—

AMY GOODMAN: Are you sure?

WENDELL POTTER: Well, I’m not sure. To tell you the truth, when I started doing what I’m doing [as a whistleblower], I was concerned about my own health and well-being, maybe just from paranoia. But these companies play to win. And we’re talking about some big bucks at stake here—billions and billions and billions of dollars.

AMY GOODMAN: So what were they talking about when they said, “If this doesn’t work, we’re going to push him off the cliff”?

WENDELL POTTER: Well, it would be just an incredibly intense PR effort, if necessary, to spend more premium dollars to defame Michael Moore, to discredit him even more as a filmmaker.

AMY GOODMAN: So, were you doing research on him?

WENDELL POTTER: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: You were going—personally?

WENDELL POTTER: Well, I was a part of the effort. I didn’t—that was part of the reason for hiring APCO and to work with a trade association, is that it relieved me of the responsibility of doing that kind of work. You paid for it to be done by people who were experts in doing that kind of research.

AMY GOODMAN: But they were doing an investigation into him personally?

WENDELL POTTER: Well, absolutely. We knew as much about him probably as he knows about himself.

AMY GOODMAN: About his wife, about his kid, about—

WENDELL POTTER: Oh, yeah. You know, it’s important to know everything that you might be able to use in some kind of a campaign against someone, to discredit them professionally and often personally.

AMY GOODMAN: And did you use that?

WENDELL POTTER: You use it if necessary.

The interview goes on as Potter reveals how his front group was able to get its talking points and smears into stories in the New York Times and CNN. It is a chilling look inside how easy it is to manipulate our mainstream media — and just how worried the health insurance companies were that the American people might demand a true universal health care system.

In particular, Potter talks about how they may have succeeded in influencing CNN to run a factually untrue story about “Sicko” by its reporter, Sanjay Gupta (which led to my infamous encounter with Wolf Blitzer and later, an apology from CNN for getting their facts wrong).

Potter believes his work to defame “Sicko” succeeded, as the film didn’t end up posting “Fahrenheit 9/11” grosses. To be clear, “Sicko” went on to become the 3rd largest grossing documentary of all time at that point. And as the release of “Sicko” in June of 2007 was the first time since the defeat of Hillary Clinton’s healthcare bill in 1994 that the issue of health insurance was brought to the forefront of the national media, I believe it helped to reignite the issue during the 2008 election year by exposing millions of Americans to the truth about the health insurance industry. More than one person on Capitol Hill will admit that “Sicko” was a big help in rallying public support for the compromise bill that eventually passed earlier this year. But I agree, their smear campaign was effective and did create the dent they were hoping for — single payer and the public option never even made it into the real discussion on the floor of Congress.

(There was really only one reason “Sicko” didn’t sell as many tickets as “Fahrenheit” and that was because of a felony that was committed — a felony that I will discuss for the first time on this site in the coming weeks or months ahead. Stay tuned.)

Please read or watch the entire interview with Wendell Potter. It’s a fascinating peek behind the curtain of how corporate America really runs this country. And how if any of us get in their way, then those people must be stopped. It begs the question: Seeing how there’s more of us than there are of them, how long will we let their takeover of our democracy continue?

God Bless the Ruling Class,
Michael Moore
MMFlint@aol.com
MichaelMoore.com

P.S. Over the next few days I will continue this examination of the Wendell Potter revelations on “Democracy Now” and in his new book. Please check in to my website.

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Let’s Pass Some Laws Before the Republicans Head Into Town (after all, that’s what they’d do)

November 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Michael Moore in 2004

Michael Moore in 2004

…an open letter to Congressional Democrats from Michael Moore

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Dear Congressional Democrats:

Welcome back to our nation’s capital for your one final session of the 111th Congress. Come January, the Republicans will take over the House while the Democrats will retain control of the Senate.

But Dems — here’s something I don’t understand: Why do you look all sullen and depressed? Clearly you’re not aware of one very important fact: YOU ARE STILL COMPLETELY, TOTALLY, LEGALLY IN CHARGE! When (and if, mostly if) you wake up to the reality that you can do whatever you want for the next seven weeks, you will realize that you have two clear options:

1. You can continue your “Sit Quietly and Hope No One Hits Me” strategy and thus lay the groundwork for an even bigger ass-kicking two years from now;

Or…

2. You can actually use the power you hold for the next seven weeks and have the Senate pass the legislation that the House has already passed!

Wake up, Democrats! You are in an awesome position right now. The House of Representatives, in this current session of Congress, has already passed an astounding 420 bills since January of 2009 — 420 bills that are just sitting there on the Senate leader’s desk. The Senate has refused to take up these House bills because they’ve been afraid of a Republican filibuster. Well, Dems, here’s the truth: You can pass all of these bills and turn them into law RIGHT NOW, TODAY, by simply calling for a majority vote of 50 Senators (plus Vice President/President of the Senate Joe Biden). Yes, you will need to change the filibuster rules. So do it. You have the votes! And yes, the Republicans will scream bloody murder — so let them! Make them. Let America see them in all their hateful, spiteful ways — it will act as a beautiful coming attraction trailer for all the world to see. Let all of America watch the Republicans as they try to derail democracy by holding up a bunch of bills that nearly every American I know would want to see as the law of the land. Many of these bills are so safe, so innocuous, I have a hard time understanding what the heck the problem was in the first place. Like the bill that’s already passed the House to name a post office after Jimmy Stewart. I know, I know, the idea of a post office named after Jimmy Stewart is really, really, incredibly controversial and divisive and somebody on the other side of the aisle might yell at you. Be brave, Democrats!

There’s a whole slew of these bills the House has passed. Some are no-brainers; others are absolutely necessary. You can pass them in the next seven weeks. And because you Dems seem to have a problem with properly naming your bills and communicating effectively with the average American, I have helpfully renamed them for you so they sound like what they actually are — things people would really want. Here’s a partial list of the bills the House has already passed and are now just in need of approval by the U.S. Senate:

• The “Give Mom a Raise Act,” officially known as the “Paycheck Fairness Act,” which addresses pay gaps between men and women. Now, who out there still believes women should be paid less than men? I REALLY want to see Republicans try to stop this one.

• The “Don’t Amputate Our Feet Act,” aka the “Eliminating Disparities in Diabetes Prevention Access and Care Act of 2009.” Which Republican will stand to speak out in favor of diabetes?

• The “Pay Up, BP Act,” aka the “Audit the BP Fund Act,” which makes sure BP is paying people hurt by the Gulf oil spill as quickly as possible — and makes BP pay the cost of keeping track of where the money’s going.

• The “Stop Foreigners From Hitting Grandma Act,” aka the “Elder Abuse Victims Act.” This doesn’t really have anything to do with foreigners, but our fellow Americans seem to automatically dislike people from other countries, so this should help just in case the Republicans think an “elders abuse victims act” doesn’t sound patriotic enough.

• The “Let’s Try Not to Destroy Planet Earth Act” (aka Cap and Trade, a lousy half-way measure to begin with, but about the best you can expect from you Democrats these days).

• The “National Bombing Prevention Act” (it’s actually already called that, which is hard to improve on).

And while those of you in the Senate are taking care of all that, the House can come up with a better version of Michelle Obama‘s “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” to improve child nutrition. The Senate has already passed this bill. (The House should fix it so that it isn’t paid for by cutting food stamps to poor people. Yes, you, a Democratic Senate, did that.)

Then there are also things that neither the House or Senate has dealt with. These would take more work during the next two months, but that’s what highly-caffeinated “energy” drinks are for.

Jenni Suri of Ligonier, Indiana, has set up a petition with a good list, which anyone can sign here to tell the Congressional leadership to get started. Among the “to do” items on the list:

• Extend emergency unemployment benefits

• Repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

• Pass the DREAM Act (to provide young immigrants with a path to citizenship)

• Pass the Disclose Act to force corporations to say what politicians they’re giving money to

• Pass the Employee Free Choice Act, so we can have unions again in the U.S.

• Pass Rep. Donna Edwards’ constitutional amendment that — in the wake of the Citizens United decision — would give Congress the power to regulate corporate spending on elections

So what do you say, Democrats? What’s the worst that could happen — you’d lose an election? You already did that! C’mon, here’s your one last gutsy chance to show us that you’re made of something other than wish and wash.

Yours,
Michael Moore
MMFlint@aol.com
MichaelMoore.com

P.S. Be sure to let the Democrats in Congress know right now you expect action from them during this next month. You can call your Senators and Representative at (202) 224-3121 or find their direct number and email at Congress.org.

P.P.S. If you missed Bill Maher or Larry King on Friday, here are the links to watch my visit to both of them: Maher, Part 1, Maher, Part 2, King, Part 1, King, Part 2, King, Part 3 and King, Part 4.

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Today Is the Day …from Michael Moore

November 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Friends,

This letter contains (almost) no criticisms of how the Democrats have brought this day of reckoning upon themselves. That — and where to go from here — will be the subject of tomorrow’s letter.

Today, we have one job and one job only: Stop the return of the bigger criminal class, the Party of War, the people who (with a few Democratic enablers) manufactured the very mess we are in.

There is good news this morning: The final ABC/Washington Post poll shows that, among registered voters, people still say they prefer the Democrats over the Republicans by 5 percentage points. It’s only when the pollsters ask “likely voters” who they want that the Republicans come out ahead by a few points.

So it’s clear the majority of voters want the Dems, but the prediction is the Republicans will win because Dem voters are going to stay home.

So, our mission is simple: MAKE SURE NO ONE WE KNOW STAYS HOME TODAY. Here’s what I am going to do right now and what I’m asking the millions of you reading this to join me in doing:

1. Email, call and/or text every non-Republican in your personal address book and remind them to vote Democratic today. If they (rightfully) complain that the Dems have been disappointing, tell them they’re right, then ask them to watch this editorial by Rachel Maddow last night where she correctly lists the dozen or so things this Democratic congress did right — the types of things we’ll never see from the Republicans if they take over (equal pay for women act, taking student loans out of the greedy hands of the banks, funding for our first bullet trains, boosting veterans benefits after Bush refused to for 8 years, etc.).

2. Post a general reminder to vote (and who to vote for) on your facebook page and tweet it to your Twitter followers.

3. If you have the time, go down to a local candidate’s HQ or the local Democratic Party office and offer to make calls or give people rides to the polls.

4. Think local. No matter where you are in America, there’s someone on the ballot today in your town who deserves your vote. Guaranteed. If you’re in Wisconsin and you’re pissed at Harry Reid for letting Joe Lieberman derail the public option on health care, don’t let that stop you from getting everyone you know to go vote for Russ Feingold. In Florida and furious at the way the Obama administration coddled Wall Street? All the more reason to call every single person you know in the Orlando area to go vote for Alan Grayson. In California and mad about the total Democratic failure on global warming? You can still change the world for the better by showing up with all your friends to vote for Prop 19 to legalize personal use of marijuana (and stop the record numbers of people we put in prison who don’t belong there).

5. Explain to anyone who’s given up and doesn’t want to vote today that Obama was handed a terrible mess that he didn’t create. He may now understand he’s moved too slow and compromised too much on the big stuff that needed to get done (after all, Goldman Sachs was his #1 private contributor in the 2008 election). But in the last couple months he’s made some good moves — booting some generals, dumping economic advisor/wrecker Larry Summers, and hiring new people like consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren. Things are very bad right now. But they can get MUCH worse. War with Iran? A genuine worldwide Second Great Depression? A Republican Congress will spend every second trying to make it happen.

6. Finally, we must let the Democratic politicians know that our vote comes with one big condition: If they do not straighten up, get a spine and do what we expect of them, we will find alternate candidates to run against them in 2012. And we mean it. Go vote today, but also sign this petition that I’ll deliver to every elected Democrat — the “I’m Voting Democratic But I Will Work to Defeat You Next Time if You Don’t Do Your Job” petition, aka “The Democrats on Probation” petition. Let’s publicly put them on notice that we’ll give them just two more years to start doing the things we elected them to do. If they move one more inch to the “center” or to the right, they will never get our vote again. And we mean business.

Bill Maher said, “We have a center-right party and a crazy party. Over the last 30 years, the Democrats have moved to the right, and the Republicans have moved into a mental hospital.” That about sums it up. But he also said, “Sure, I’m mad at the Democrats. I’m also mad at my cell phone company. But I don’t throw away my cell phone cause I’m mad and then rub dog shit on my teeth.” We all know this isn’t the best situation to be in. So consider this one last reason to get out and vote:

There are good people the country has never heard of who are running today all across America, most of them for the first time. Somewhere in this great land right now, the woman who will cast the deciding vote in the Senate for single payer in 2016 is running for mayor of your city in her first big race. Somewhere else, the person who will become the first female president of the United States in 2020 is running for the state house for the first time. Their careers will be over and that future will never be if you don’t show up today. Go to theballot.org, find out who’s great and running where you live, and then show up to vote for them. You may help light the spark that will save our sorry ass somewhere down the road. Don’t just hold your nose today as you go in the booth — go ignite a future revolution. The only thing that makes the corporate honchos happier than paying no taxes is making sure as few people vote as possible. They think they’ve bought this election.

Go prove them wrong.

Yours,
Michael Moore
MMFlint@aol.com
MichaelMoore.com

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A Boot to the Head …from Michael Moore

October 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Tuesday, October 28th, 2010

Friends,

There she was, thrown to the pavement by a Republican in a checkered shirt. Another Republican thrusts his foot in between her legs and presses down with all his weight to pin her to the curb. Then a Republican leader comes over and viciously stomps on her head with his foot. You hear her glasses crunch under the pressure. Holding her head down with his foot, he applies more force so she can’t move. Her skull and brain are now suffering a concussion.

The young woman’s name is Lauren Valle, but she is really all of us. For come this Tuesday, the right wing — and the wealthy who back them — plan to take their collective boot and bring it down hard on not just the head of Barack Obama but on the heads of everyone they simply don’t like.

Teachers union? The boot!

Muslim-looking people? The boot!

Thinking of retiring soon? The boot!

Living in a house you can no longer afford? The boot!

Doing a bit better with your minimum wage? The boot!

Stem cell research, the bullet train, reversing global warming? Ha! The boot for all of you!

What? You like your kids being covered by your health plan ’til they’re 26? The boot for them and the boot for you!

In love with someone of your own gender? A double boot up the ass for every single one of you sick SOBs!

Hoping there’s a few jobs left here in the U.S. when you graduate? How ’bout just a nice boot to your head instead?

And most importantly, the last boot is saved for the black man who probably wasn’t born here, definitely isn’t a Christian and possibly might be the Antichrist sent here to oversee the destruction of our very way of life. A boot to your head, Obama-devil!

Yes, one big boot is poised to stomp out whatever hopey-changey thing we might have had two years ago and secure this country in the hands of the oligarchs and the culture police.

And if they win on Tuesday, they plan to show no mercy. They will not speak of bipartisanship or olive branches or tolerate any filibuster threats. They will come in and do the job with a mandate they’ll perceive the electorate will have given them. They will not fart around for two years like the Democrats did. They will not “search for compromise” or “find middle ground.” They will not meet you halfway on the playing field. They know that touchdowns aren’t scored at the 50-yard line. Unlike our guys, they’re not stupid or spineless.

Make no mistake about it, my friends. A perfect storm has gathered of racists, homophobes, corporatists and born agains and they are on fire. Two years of a black man who secretly holds socialist beliefs being the boss of them is more than they can stomach. They’ve been sick to death since the night of 11/04/08 and they are ready to purge. They won’t need a rope and tree this time to effect the change they seek (why bother when a nice shoe on another’s skull will do just fine, thank you).

They simply need to get their base to the polls (done), convince enough people Obama is responsible for the fact they don’t have a job or a secure home (done), and then hope enough of us Obama-voters are so frustrated, disappointed and downright mad at the Dems (done) that we’ll either stay home Tuesday or, if we vote, we won’t be carpooling with 10 others to the polls.

Done? Or not?

These Republicans mean business. Their boots are all shined and ready. But they’ve got one huge problem:

The majority of Americans don’t agree with them.

The majority want the troops home. The majority want true universal health coverage. The majority want the thievery on Wall Street to be stopped. The majority believe that global warming is happening, that social security shouldn’t be privatized and that unions are a good thing.

Too bad the majority party has done precious little to bring about the change for which the majority voted. Yes, change takes time. But try telling that to someone who hasn’t worked in two years. Or who hears the knock of the foreclosure sheriff at the door. The booted-up minority knows how to make hay in a situation like this. All they need is us, the disappointed, dismayed, disgusted us.

What say you? Stay home and punish the weak-kneed, sell-out Democrats? Or spend every free moment you have between now and Tuesday trying to protect what little progress has been made so we can live to fight another day (even if it is with “allies” like a Democratic Party that will more than likely still not get the message of what they need to do — and has, in fact, spent much of the past two years giving progressives the boot)? Perhaps our job, post-election, is to provide a gentle but swift boot in the bee-hind of the party whose mascot is an ass.

Right now, we’ve got 112 hours. Seems like enough.

Yours,
Michael Moore
MMFlint@aol.com
MichaelMoore.com

P.S. I’ll be on The Rachel Maddow Show tonight! Be sure to tune in to MSNBC at 9:00pm ET/PT.

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Michael Moore: Why Republicans Are Always Worried About Their Pet Corporations Facing Any Real Free Market Competition

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Cover of "Fahrenheit 9/11"

Cover of Fahrenheit 9/11

By Michael Moore, MichaelMoore.com
Posted on October 21, 2010, Printed on October 21, 2010
http://www.alternet.org/story/148567/

I have a rule of thumb that’s served me well my whole life: whenever corporate executives begin talking about how they support “free markets” and “competition,” check to see if you still have your wallet.

That’s because no one — not Karl Marx, not Fidel Castro, not your niece who owns the only lemonade stand on the block — hates competition more than corporations. The whole goal of a corporation is to crush all the competition. When corporate executives start pushing for “free market policies,” what they mean is a government that lets them become a monopoly.

Don’t believe me? Well, count how many corporate CEOs (and Republican politicians) stand up and cheer for the Obama administration this week:

The Justice Department sued Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan on Monday, asserting that the company, the state’s dominant health insurer, had violated antitrust laws and secured a huge competitive advantage by forcing hospitals to charge higher prices to Blue Cross’s rivals.

The civil case appears to have broad implications because many local insurance markets, like those in Michigan, are highly concentrated, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans often have the largest shares of those markets. […]

Blue Cross and Blue Shield, like most insurers, contracts with hospitals, doctors, labs and other providers for services. The lawsuit took direct aim at contract clauses stipulating that no insurance companies could obtain better rates from the providers than Blue Cross. Some of these contract provisions, known as “most favored nation” clauses, require hospitals to charge other insurers a specified percentage more than they charge Blue Cross — in some cases, 30 to 40 percent more, the lawsuit said.

As the New York Times reports, Blue Cross Blue Shield insures 60% of Michiganders — including me and everyone in my office. They have nine times more customers than the state’s next largest insurer.

And they’re just doing what businesses do, even non-profits like Blue Shield: use all their power to eliminate the competition. In fact, if Daniel J. Loepp, Blue Cross’s CEO, didn’t do that, he’d be kicked out and someone who did would replace him. (I’d hate to see that happen — he always seems like a real gentlemen when he writes every year to tell us they’re hiking our premiums 27%.)

So this is the future we face with health care in the U.S., even with Obama’s new bill: endless battles between the federal government and health insurance corporations as the companies use all their ingenuity to give us fewer choices and higher prices…at least until we get President Palin, who’ll stop fighting the biggest insurance companies and start helping them kill their competition. Which she’ll do while giving tons of speeches about the need for competition and free markets.

Is there any solution for Michigan? Yes, and it’s just across the river in Canada: they have single-payer health insurance. Of course, at this point we pretty much do too. The difference is that our single-payer is run by a corporation. Theirs is run by the government — or to put it another way, democratically.

P.S. Blue Cross Blue Shield is fantastic at making secret agreements with hospitals, but not so great at actually getting people health care: the U.S. is now ranked 49th worldwide in life expectancy. Look out, French Polynesia, we’re coming for you next!

Michael Moore is an Academy Award-winning filmmaker and author. He directed and produced Roger & Me, Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, and Sicko. He has also written seven books, most recently, Mike’s Election Guide 2008
© 2010 MichaelMoore.com All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/148567/

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